It’s official—AbbVie dumps Rova-T after another lung cancer fail

AbbVie’s Rova-T has failed yet another lung cancer trial, this time as a frontline treatment. But AbbVie didn’t regroup and point to its Rova-T programs in other treatment settings. It axed the drug, once and for all.

The Big Pharma picked up Rova-T, a.k.a. Rovalpituzumab tesirine, in its $5.8 billion buyout of Stemcentrx in 2016. At the time, the drug was in a phase 2 study aimed at a quick FDA nod with the potential to net another $4 billion for Stemcentrx in milestone payments.

Rova-T’s promise lay in targeting delta-like protein 3 (DLL3), which is expressed in more than 80% of tumors in patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). The antibody-drug conjugate is designed to deliver a cytotoxic payload directly to DLL3-expressing cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells and reducing side effects. It carried hope for SCLC patients, who have few treatments outside of surgery and chemotherapy.


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